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jMe. President, and Fellows of the College 
of Physicians : — Few things are more difficult 
than to preserve alive for many years the spirit 
of an anniversary celebration. The memory of 
even a national deliverance grows faint; the 
horrors of war, the contest with the oppressor, 
are alike forgotten; a long peace effaces the re- 
collection of the struggle to attain it, and of 
the hero by whom it was won. 

But still more quickly fades the remembrance 
of private benefactors. How quickly we all 
have realised who in one of our cathedrals, or of 
our college chapels have listened on some Sun- 
day or Festival Day to the Bidding Prayer, and 
have heard mentioned with thanks to Almighty 
God the names of men and women gone ages 
since to their last home, of whom all we know, 
and almost all that we can learn is, that ' they 


rest from their labours and their works do fol- 
low them.' 

There is, however, something peculiar and 
different from most in this celebration. It was 
instituted by the very man whom we comme- 
morate : instituted not for his own glory, but 
' to make mention of the benefactors of this 
College, and to encourage its members to search 
out the secrets of nature by way of experi- 
ment.' l 

1 The very words of Harvey in the deed by which he 
provides for this Oration are worth quotation, so well do 
they express the genial, loving character of the man. 

After ordering a general feast to be kept within the 
College once every year for such Fellows as shall please to 
come, he adds : 

' And on the day when such feast shall be kept, some 
one person (Member of the said College), to be from time 
to time appointed by the President, shall make an Oration 
publicly in the said College, wherein shall be a commemo- 
ration of all the benefactors of the said College by name, 
and what in particular they have done for the benefit of 
the College ; with an exhortation to others to imitate those 
benefactors, and to contribute their endeavours for the 
advancement of the Society according to the example of 
those benefactors, and with an exhortation to the Fellows 
and Members of the said College, to search and study out 
the secrets of nature by way of experiment, and also for 
the honour of the profession to continue mutual love and 
affection amongst themselves, without which neither the 

A compendious theme this, and one making 
large demands upon the head and heart of him 
who would aspire to treat it. 

When your commands, Sir, were first laid 
upon me to undertake this most honourable, 
most arduous office, I studied, as a preparation 
for its accomplishment, all the Harveian Orations 
that I could meet with. But the study yielded 
me scant comfort. I found that the first Harveian 
Orator had incurred grave displeasure for having 
indulged in unseemly criticisms on the con- 
trol of the army, and the government of the 
country at a time when Oliver Cromwell was 
Lord Protector. 1 There was much need doubt- 
less that the performance of so indiscreet a 
person should be submitted to the censors for 

dignity of the College can be preserved, nor yet particular 
men receive the benefit of their admission into the College 
which they might expect; ever remembering that Con- 
cordia res parvw crescunt, discordid magna dilabuntur'.' 

I am indebted for this extract from the deed to my 
kind friend and master, Dr. Farre, the Treasurer of the 

1 ' Quod acrius quam decuit in rem militarem decla- 
masset ; adeoque prassens Reipublicse regimen collutulatum 
esset.' — College Annals, as quoted by Dr. Munk in Koll of 
Royal College of Physicians, vol. i. p. 226. 

b 2 

revision, 1 and a rule was then adopted that 
thereafter no Oration should be given in public 
until at least a month beforehand it had been 
submitted to and approved by the President and 

I do not know how long it is since this rule 
was allowed to fall into disuse. Its existence, 
however, proves how responsible a post that 
was felt to be which I now have the honour to 
occupy, and I could wish, for my own sake, that 
instead of having simply to throw myself on the 
indulgence of my hearers, I could plead that my 
poor attempt to do justice to my theme had 
already been submitted to the President and 
Censors, and had been stamped by their autho- 
rity as fit to pass current. 

I said, Sir, that I have looked with care at 
almost all the Orations which have been given 
on this occasion. Feed I add that I have not 
done so with the idle and unworthy purpose of 
decking out my work with the genius, or the 
learning, or the grace of my predecessors, for 
the unhandy patchwork would at once be dis- 
covered, and when Meade and Arbuthnot and 

1 ' Ut eadem denuo perlustraretur.' 

Akenside, and in more recent days, Latham and 
Hawkins and Eolleston, had reclaimed their 
own, I should stand before you like the painted 
daw in the fable. I sought in the Orations, and 
especially in the earlier ones, for something that 
might have enabled me to set the man Harvey 
before you, ' in his habit as he lived ; ' for while 
but few are gifted with any measure of his deep 
insight, or can follow even at a distance the 
track of his genius, it would profit all of 
us to learn the lesson of his patriotism, his 
loyalty, his open-handed bounty, his forgiveness 
of injury and detraction, his deep religious 

But my search has yielded little fruit, partly, 
I suppose, from Harvey's own character. The 
man who needed the cannon-shot at Edge Hill 1 
to arouse him from his studies and to make him 
remove for the sake of the Princes committed 
to his care to a safer place, lived too entirely 
in his own pursuits to take much heed of life 
beyond them. It was with him much as it has 

1 This, and many other familiar traits in Harvey's life, 
we owe to Aubrey. ' Letters by Eminent Persons, and 
Lives of Eminent Men,' vol. ii. part ii. 8vo., London, 1813. 
'Life of Dr. W. Harvey,' pp. 376-386. 

been with many of our greatest artists, to whom 
the external world was but suggestive of the 
inner world in which they lived ; to whom it 
appeared, not as it shows itself to others, but 
as it was translatable into their own language, 
or as they could clothe it in their own expres- 
sion. Harvey had travelled much, and the few 
descriptive touches that we meet with in his 
writings are most picturesque and life-like. But 
they are brought forward merely to illustrate 
some point in his scientific researches. His 
account of the Bass Eock 1 and of the countless 
birds that inhabit it, ' more numerous than the 
stars that appear on the unclouded moonless 
sky,' is so true to nature that it at once recalls 
to all who were so fortunate as to see it Gra- 
ham's picture in the exhibition of our Boyal 
Academy three years ago. And yet this minute- 
ness of observation, this beauty of description, 
are but subordinate to a detail of the process 
by which the hard shell is formed round the 
egg. And so, a few paragraphs further on, we 
find ourselves on the tiptoe of expectation when 

1 ' Harvaei Opera' — College edition, 4to. 1766, p. 221 ; 
and Willis's translation for [Sydenham Society, 8vo., 
London, 1847, p. 208. 

we come to a sentence which begins, ' When I 
was at Venice in former years ;' but as we read 
on, in hopes to find some record of the impres- 
sion left on Harvey's mind by that wonderful 
city, it turns out that the place is mentioned 
merely because it was there that Aromatari, 1 a 
learned physician, showed him a specimen of 
unusually exuberant vegetable growth as illus- 
trative of the influence of soft air, mild climate, 
and bright sky on the development of plants. 

Harvey's whole mind, almost his whole 
heart, seem to have been devoted to his fa- 
vourite pursuits. He did not care for wealth, 
he did not care for fame ; married, but child- 
less, his first affections seem to have been set 
on the places where he had studied or had 
taught. Aubrey tells us (I am not quite sure 
whether correctly) that in spite of his brother's 
entreaties he persisted in giving the stone house 
where he and all his brothers were born to 
Caius College, Cambridge. His diploma of 
Doctor of Medicine of Padua, his earliest trophy, 

1 Opera, p. 224; Willis, p. 211. Aromatari was a 
contemporary of Harvey, and like him a graduate of 
Padua, and practised with great distinction at Venice. See 
his life in 'Biographie Medicale,' 8vo., Paris, 1820. 

found its way, I know not how, to the King's 
School at Canterbury, which he entered as a 
child of ten, and left as a lad of fifteen -, 1 and 
he bequeathed to the College of Physicians 
such purely personal memorials as ' my best Per- 
sian long carpet and my blue satin embroidered 
cushion. 2 

For the last twenty years of his life Harvey 
had no settled home of his own, but lived about 
at his brother Eliab's houses, either in town 
or country ; and the gossip Aubrey, a sort of 
seventeenth century Bos well (but wanting Bos- 
well's reverence for what was higher and nobler 
than himself), tells us how Harvey ' sat for hours 
on the leads of Cockaine House, where he was 
used to contemplate ; or at Coombe, in Surrey, 
where he had caves made in the earth in which 
in summer he delighted to meditate.' 

' His heart and brain moved there, his feet staid here.' 

1 This diploma was afterwards presented to the College 
of Physicians, in whose archives it is preserved, by Dr. Os- 
mond Beauvoir, Head-Master of the King's School, Canter- 
bury, through Sir W. Browne, President of the College, 
in 1764, as is set forth in a Latin memorandum by Sir W. 
Browne himself, written inside the cover of the diploma. 

2 See copy of Will in Willis's ' Harvey,' p. lxxxix. 


They staid with all love and kindness, and 
moved up and down the paths of this work-a day 
world as if they were quite unused to higher 
regions. Harvey seems, indeed, to have cared 
much for home friendships' — for the love of his 
brothers, sisters, nephews, and nieces, to all 
of whom he bequeathed some remembrance, 
thoughtfully selected according to what would 
be of most service or give most pleasure. But 
nothing in his will is so touching as his refer- 
ence to a certain Will. Foulkes, whether re- 
lated to him or not does not appear, who seems 
to have been a feeble-witted person, and under 
the care of one of Harvey's nieces. He left to 
her ' all the linen, household stuff, and furniture 
at Coome, near Croydon, for the use of Will. 
Foulkes.' Further on he assigns a stated yearly 
sum towards his maintenance, and then in the 
last sentence, as if he feared lest something in 
spite of all his care might yet befall one so 
helpless, he provides for his custody in the 
event of the death of his niece, Mary Pratt. 
This is the substance of his will ; but there are 
bequests to the poor of Folkestone, to the poor 
of Christ's Hospital, to the poor children of his 
cousin ; and then ' one hundred pounds among 


other my poorest kindred, to be distributed at 
the appointment of my executors.' Then there 
come in touches of kind remembrance of old 
friends. ' My little silver instruments of sur- 
gery to Dr. Scarborough, and my velvet gown. 
Five pounds to my loving friend Dr. Ent, to 
buy him a ring to keep or wear in remem- 
brance of me ; ' and in a codicil he adds, ' ten 
pounds to my good friend Mr. Thos. Hobbes, to 
buy something to keep in remembrance of me.' 
It is strange to find evidence of close intimacy 
between two men so widely different as Wm. 
Harvey and Thomas Hobbes. I dare say their 
common acquaintance with Bacon brought them 
in contact, and Harvey's genial temper would 
attach him to a man who ' was well-beloved 
for his pleasant facetiousness and suavity.' x 

One matter Harvey refers to in his will 
which might excusably enough have moved 
him to complaint : his library plundered, his 
manuscripts destroyed a few years before by 
the Parliamentary soldiers when they rifled his 
lodging at Whitehall. But he only desires his 
loving friends, Dr. Scarborough and Dr. Ent, 

1 Aubrey. Op. cit., vol. ii. part. ii. p. 619. 


' to look over those scattered remains of my 
poor library, and whatever books, papers, or 
rare collections they shall think fit to present 
to the College, and the rest to be sold, and 
with the money buy better.' To his published 
writings he makes no reference ; no word 
occurs about his discoveries, no thought seems 
given to his fame, nor care expressed for its 
preservation, for he begins his will, ' Imprimis. 
I do most humbly render my soul to him that 
gave it, and to my blessed Lord and Saviour 
Christ Jesus ; ' and besides that where is the 
room for thought of earthly fame ? 

Little that is authentic can be added to this 
sketch of Harvey by his own hand. Of his 
outward form the portrait and the bust which 
we possess in this College give no doubt 
a correct resemblance. I doubt, however, 
whether the grave anxious expression which 
they convey was by any means habitual to 
him. Still, with their help, we may, perhaps, set 
before us the little dark-complexioned man, with 
keen black eyes and curling hair, which age 
changed from black to snowy white ; rapid in 
utterance, hasty in manner, choleric in his 
younger days, and used then in discourse with 


anyone to play unconsciously with the handle of 
a small dagger which he wore. 1 

For the rest, unwearied in his pursuit of 
knowledge, most rapid in its acquisition, so that 
his diploma of Doctor of Medicine, which he 
obtained at Padua at the early age of twenty- 
four, is not worded in the common language of 
those documents, laudatory of course, though 
they always are, but well-nigh exhausts the 
Latin language of its superlatives, and speaks of 
how all listened with intensest pleasure to his 
clear and most appropriate answers, and how 
most astonishingly and most excellently ' miri- 
fice et excellentissime ' he had borne himself. 

The knowledge thus attained he was always 
as ready to impart as he was eager to increase ; 
while nothing tried him half so much as the loss 
of time spent in defending his discoveries or in 
answering captious critics, to whom he yet was 
always ready to give credit for candour and a 
love of truth like his own. He seems to have 
found his chief relaxation when alone in Virgil, 
whose mediaeval character, half-wizard, half- 
dim unconscious prophet of a coming Chris- 

1 Aubrey. Op. cit., p. 382. 


tianity, lasted down almost to modern times. 
' He has a devil,' Harvey was more than once 
heard to say as he flung the book from him to 
the other side of the room, and turned again to 
the researches from which the poet and en- 
chanter had wiled him too long away. But in 
spite of all that science on the one hand, or 
imagination on the other, could do to occupy 
his mind and fill his heart, his sympathy and 
love for his fellow-men were ever keen and 
ever active. He instituted a quarterly meeting 
of the Fellows of this College, who were then 
to dine together, and thus to maintain brotherly 
love towards each other ; and the year before 
his death, when he presented to the College the 
title-deeds of the estate which we still possess, 
he entertained all the Fellows at a banquet, 
while one of the objects specially set forth in 
the deed by which he founded this our anni- 
versary was the exhortation which it is my duty 
to-day to make to all of you, my colleagues, 
that ' we should continue mutual love and affec- 
tion among ourselves.' 

Such was the man, such were his pursuits ; 
loving knowledge for its own sake, loving it too 
not in pride of intellect, but in humility of 


heart, believing that it, like every good and 
perfect gift, cometh down from above from the 
Father of lights ; and his longing for it seems 
to have become stronger as he grew older. 

' And this grey spirit yearning in desire 
To follow knowledge like a sinking star, 
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought,' 

did it in the full conviction that here we know 
but in part, that we do but see as through a 
glass darkly ; but that there, in the full efful- 
gence of God's own light, we shall see all 
clearly, and that there all secrets shall be re- 

Such then was Harvey ; so far at least as 
scanty materials allow us to sketch the outline, 
and as my unskilled pencil may enable me to 
fill in the details of the portrait. It will not be 
without interest to enquire in the midst of what 
surroundings he grew up ; for though his was 
not the character to be shaped by outward cir- 
cumstances, still no one can be altogether inde- 
pendent of their influence, and least of all in 
times such as were those in which Harvey 

The earliest lesson that he learned, next to 


that tender affection which must have been the 
daily teaching of a home where a mother like 
his bore sway, was that loyalty learnt in child- 
hood, called into practice when grey hairs had 
come and old age was close at hand. Never 
could he forget those two cloudless July days, 
just before he went to the King's School at 
Canterbury, when all Folkestone gathered on 
the cliffs to watch the contest between the Ar- 
mada of Spain and the few ships which then 
represented the navy of England. On the one 
side religion was said to be engaged (but never 
was she further than from the blessings and the 
cursings uttered then in her name), on the other 
were ranged all who were moved by love of 
country, love of freedom, love of all that makes 
life worth the having, just as they had been on 
a wider field, upon the Southern Sea, seventeen 
years before. 1 No Englishman, whatever his 
creed, hesitated then, as none would hesitate 
now, in determining the side on which he would 
be found contending ; and the names of Howard, 
of Southwell, and of Montagu gave the verdict 

1 The battle of Lepanto, fought on Eosary Sunday, 
October 7, 1571. 


which I am well assured none in the present 
nineteenth century would reverse. 

Full of this teaching, Harvey went to Can- 
terbury. He stayed at the King's School for 
five years, from childhood to youth, and left 1 
at the age of fifteen, entering at Caius College 
on May 31, 1593. He took his degree of B.A. 
in 1597, and left the University ; and I know 
of no record of who were his friends or what his 
pursuits during those four years. All that we 
can be sure of is that they were not years 
wasted, for he was well furnished for his future 
career when, on quitting Cambridge, he went 
immediately to Padua, attracted thither doubt- 
less by the fame of its University as a school 
for those anatomical studies for which he had 
acquired a taste at college. The University of 
Padua became to Harvey a second mother, and 

1 The terms in which Harvey's admission at Caius 
College, Cambridge, ' in commeatum scholarium ' is re- 
corded, seeming to imply that he went thither with a 
scholarship from Canterbury, I addressed myself to my 
friends Dr. Paget, Regius Professor of Medicine at Cam- 
bridge, and Dr. Lochee of Canterbury, and as the result of 
their kind enquiries, I feel able to state confidently that 
Harvey entered college as a pensioner, and that he held no 
scholarship from Canterbury. 


her kindly nurture developed in him that genius 
which has left the whole world his debtor. The 
hasty traveller, indeed, who stops for an hour 
or two on his way to Venice to take a hurried 
glance at the chapel of Giotto scarcely dreams 
as he treads the grass-grown streets of the de- 
serted city, 

' Where wasteful time debateth with decay,' 

how large a space Padua has filled in the in- 
tellectual life of Europe. 1 And yet it was once 

1 With reference to the state of the universities of 
Europe in the middle ages and Renaissance period, see 
Meiner's ' Historische Vergleichung der Sitten des Mittel- 
alters, &c.,' Hanover, 1793 ; 8vo. vol. ii., 2ter Abschnitt, 
pp. 403-534 ; Cibrario, 'Delia Economia Politica del Medio 
Evo,' Torino, 1842, vol. ii. pp. 308-312; and references; 
Tiraboschi. ' Storia della Letteratura Italiana,' Milano, 
1826, 8vo. iv. 61, v. 71, vi. Ill, vii. 156, viii. 154; and the 
first three volumes of that storehouse of antiquarian know- 
ledge, Monteil's ' Histoire des Francais des divers Etats,' of 
which the most convenient edition is that of 1853, with its 
graceful biography by Jules Janin. 

As to Padua in particular, the best authorities are the, 
unfortunately, incomplete work of P. M. Colle's, ' Storia 
dello Studio di Padova,' 4 vols. 4to. Padova, 1824, 
1825, which ceases at the year 1405, when the territory 
passed to the Venetian States, just at the time, in short, 
when so trustworthy a guide would have been beyond all 
price ; next, the various details in Tiraboschi ; Op. cit. iv. 



a university with 18,000 students; a true re- 
public of letters, and a republic of most demo- 
cratic kind. The Professors, originally elected 
by the students, were in Harvey's time still 
nominated by the University. The different 
faculties were independent of each other as 
far as their internal government was concerned, 
and the ecclesiastical censures which afterwards 
troubled the life of Galileo did not interfere 
with his functions as Professor at Padua. To 
encourage merit wherever found, two professors 
were appointed on every subject, the one a 
foreigner, the other a citizen of Venice. These 
professorships too, were not mere titles of 
honour, but in addition to the fees paid by the 
students, the different chairs were well endowed. 
Thus, in the year 1598, 1 about the time when 

69, et seq., v. 93, vi. 116, vii. 160, viii. 55, &c. ; Riccoboni, 
' De Gymnasio Patavino,' libri vi. 4to. Patavii, 1598 ; 
Portenari, ' Delia Felicita di Padova,' folio, Padova, 1623 : 
see lib. vii. which treats of the University ; and Facciolati, 
' Fasti Gymnasii Patavini,' ab anno 1406, 2 vols. 4to. 
Patavii, 1757. 

1 Riccoboni. Op. cit. lib. vi. cap. xx. p. 147. In 
1601, according to a folio broad-sheet, published at 
Padua, with an exquisitely engraved picture of the exterior 
and another of the interior of the hall of the University, 
with the title ' Nomina, Cognomina, loca, stipendia, &c, 


Harvey entered there, the annual stipend of the 
Professor of Practical Medicine was 1,000 
florins, 1 a sum equal to nearly 500J. at the 
present day ; and Fabricius himself, as Demon- 
strator of Anatomy, received 500 florins, or 
nearly 250£., while as Professor of Anatomy and 
Surgery together he received more than double 
that sum. The number of students, indeed, had 
declined greatly in Harvey's time, as it had in 
all the old universities, whose most prosperous 
time preceded the invention of printing, the 
new learning and its new modes of communica- 
tion. Instead of 18,000, there were at the end 
of the 16th century not above 1,500 students ; 
and the quaint old traveller Coryat, 2 most un- 
imaginative of men, but smitten with the plague 
of an insatiable curiosity which sent him wander- 
ing through Europe, to die at last in India, tells 

professorum qui in Gymn. Patav. hoc anno profitentur.' 
The stipend of Fabricius is stated as 1,000 florins or 5001. 

1 It is, I suppose, by a mere typographical error that 
Daru, 'Histoire de Venise,' Paris, 1853, vol. vi. p. 195, 
professedly quoting Eiccoboni, states the salary of the 
Professor of Practical Medicine at 3,000 florins. The 
salary was 1,000, and the highest of all was 1,680 florins to 
Pancirola, Professor of Civil Law. 

2 « Crudities, &c.,' reprinted from edition of 1611, 8vo., 
London, 1781, vol. i. p. 193. 

c 2 


us of Padua, not eight years after Harvey left it : 
' There is one special thing wanting in this city, 
which made me not a little wonder, namely, 
that frequency of people which I observed in 
the other Italian cities. For I saw so few 
people here that I think no city of all Italy, 
France, or Germany, no, nor of all Christendom, 
that countervaileth this in quantity, is less 

But in spite of diminished numbers, the old 
reputation of the place survived, and its old 
traditions lingered still about it. We do not 
forget that it was to Padua the Duke sent 
for one who could best plead for Antonio, 
though I fancy none of us regrets the mischance 
which, instead of the learned Bellario, sent • the 
young doctor of Borne,' who baffled Shylock, 
and left to us Englishmen another Shakesperian 
legacy in Portia. 

The old customs had not yet fallen into 
disuse in Harvey's time. 1 The medical session 
began on October 18, the day dedicated to St. 
Luke, the beloved physician, when all assem- 

1 See Statuta Alnase Universitatia Pkilosophorum et 
Medicorum, cognomento Artistarum Patavini Gymnasii. 
Patavii, 4to. 1607. See p. 77, De Inchoatione Studii. 


bled in the church (the bishops and chief clergy 
being invited) to hear an oration by some doc- 
tor or other learned person in praise of the 
study of medicine ; and to urge the scholars to 
its diligent pursuit ; the whole assembly then 
heard mass, after which the Litany of the Holy 
Ghost was said ; for in those days people held, 
in profession at least, to the belief ' If any of 
you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth 
to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it 
shall be given him.' 

To Harvey no doubt the great attraction of 
Padua was its anatomical school, which then pre- 
sented opportunities for study greater than any 
other in Europe. The statutes of the Univer- 
sity prescribed that twice during the academical 
session, which extended from St. Luke's Day to 
the Feast of the Assumption, on August 15, 1 
the whole human body should be publicly dis- 
sected by the Professor of Anatomy. Nor were 
the means neglected to ensure the fulfilment of 
this regulation ; for it was provided that, if no 
criminals were executed within the province of 
Padua, the University should have the power of 

1 Statuta, &c, p. 103. Dies festi, et vacationum. 


claiming bodies from Venice, or elsewhere with- 
in the Venetian States. 1 Not seven years before 
Harvey came to Padua, the Venetian govern- 
ment had built there at its own cost a new ana- 
tomical theatre, and had placed over its entrance 
an inscription commemorating the liberality, as 
well as the genius of Professor Fabricius, 2 who 
had built the former theatre at his own expense. 
Between Fabricius, honoured by and adding 
honour to the dignity of a Knight of St. Mark, 
and Harvey, a fast friendship seems to have 
sprung up, or rather that loving relationship 
which is so beautiful between the youth scarce 
twenty and the old man of well-nigh seventy 

Something of his open-hancled liberality and 
of his indifference to wealth Harvey may have 
learned from the example of Fabricius, who con- 
tented himself with his stipend, and refused the 
large sums which his great reputation as a sur- 

1 Statuta, &c, p. 90. De Anothomia singulis annis 

2 See biography of Fabricius and his colleagues in the 
different volumes of the ' Biographie Medicale,' and also 
various incidental notices concerning them in Part iii. of 
Facciolati's ' Fasti,' &c. 


geon placed at his command. When grateful 
patients forced their gifts on his acceptance, he 
with quaint humour arranged them all in one 
large room, and wrote upon the door 'Lucri 
neglecti Lucrum,' which I may perhaps be 
allowed to render, ' See what I get by saying 

The name of Fabricius is the first subscribed 
to Harvey's diploma. Next to it comes that of 
John Thomas Minadous, an accomplished and 
much-travelled man, the son and brother of phy- 
sicians, and they of no mean repute. He passed 
seven years of his life in the East, and wrote 
a History of the War between the Sultan and 
th} Shah, a matter then of much more concern- 
ment to Europe than at the present day. Next 
cones the name of Julius Casserius, a native of 
Piaenza, whom Fabricius took out of compas- 
sion is a poor boy to be his lackey. The lad 
showd parts ; Fabricius taught and trained him. 
for tie republic of letters was then no mere 
phrast; and so from valet he became pupil, 
from p.pil, friend, then colleague of Fabricius, 
and las of all his successor in the professorial 
chair. Servitor, Sizar, Taberder — terms and 
condition which we have now done away with 


in our universities — brought then no sense of 
inferiority, for all felt equal in their citizenship 
in the commonwealth of learning. Casserius 
projected a large work on anatomy, illustrated 
with beautiful engravings, which the curious may 
still admire and the student still profit from. 
Death overtook him in the midst of his un- 
finished task, three years before his master 
passed away in advanced old age. 

Let these suffice as samples of the men with 
whom Harvey was in daily intercourse. It 
would be easy enough, especially if one tra 
veiled beyond the somewhat narrow circle 
those whose pursuits were exclusively cor- 
nected with the profession of medicine, to sw/11 
the list of those remarkable alike for their ge- 
nius and their culture, who were the inheritors 
of all that was most worth the possessing of 
that wonderful renaissance, that new birti of 
the world, out of which came alike the evil 
and the good of modern society. 

The commencement of that epoch w^ like 
the thawing of some mighty frost-bound ilream. 
Northern travellers tell us how with fie ap- 
proach of spring the long silence of witer is 
disturbed by strange sounds, loud packing, 


or reports like those of thunder or of die- 
charges of artillery, which tell how the masses 
of solid ice are giving way beneath the in- 
fluence of the returning warmth. And next, 
for the simile still holds good, the swollen river 
overflows its banks, and terrifies by strange por- 
tents of evil the inhabitants, unable to realise 
the fertility which the receding waters will 
leave behind them. 

' Terruit gentes, grave ne rediret 
Saeculum Pyrrhse, nova monstra quests ; 
Omne cum Proteus pecus egit altos 
Visere montes,' 

says Horace ; and much, I think, is to be said 
in behalf of those who, like 'Gravissimus 
et Excellentissimus Dominus Ortuinus Gratius,' 
shrank from the new learning and its results. 1 
The laugh was with Ulrich von Htitten : his 
own life and death were not so edifying as to 
make one cast in one's lot unhesitatingly with 
hirn and his compeers. 

By degrees the disturbances which ushered 

1 The first edition of the 'Epistolae Obscurorum 
Viroruru ' appeared in 1515. See p. xxix. of preface to 
Rotermund's excellent edition of the ' Epistolaj,' published 
at Hanover, in 1830. 


in this time subsided, and as the waters as- 
suaged the soil which had seemed before so 
barren began to show a wonderful fertility. 
The plants, indeed, were not all like those trees 
which the Apostle saw in vision, each bearing 
its wholesome fruit, nor were the leaves of 
all for the healing of the nations ; but, far 
from it, the primseval curse remained, and 
thorns and thistles grew too in rank luxuriance. 
But, look at it with whatever eyes we may, 
it must be admitted that the time was one of 
development of mind such as the modern world 
had not known before ; and this development 
was very general, not limited, as in the middle 
ages, to a few who towered above the rest, 
not alone from their own greatness, but in part 
at least from the littleness of those around. 
The last half of the fifteenth century was a time 
of preparation, in which men were learning the 
use of the new weapons to be wielded in the 
storm and strife of the ensuing fifty years. The 
peace of Augsburg, in 1555, fixed the limits 
beyond which Protestantism has never passed, 
and the Council of Trent moulded the Eoman 
Catholic Church into the form which it has 
ever since retained. The position of the two 


religions has since remained (with some notable 
exceptions indeed) one of armed truce ; and it 
was during the first hundred years after the 
commencement of this state of things that the 
greatest intellectual activity which has ever 
shown itself in the world's history in matters 
not purely theological prevailed. I might add, 
it was during this time that the greatest intel- 
lects who in modern times ever enriched science 
or adorned literature arose and flourished. A 
century which began with Bacon and ended 
with Newton, which began with Shakespeare 
and ended with Milton (not to travel beyond 
the borders of our own island), forms an epoch 
in mental progress which none can excel, with 
which few can compare. 

It was under the influences of this time that 
Harvey grew to intellectual manhood. There 
had, as we shall see presently, been labourers at 
work for nearly fifty years unconsciously break- 
ing up the ground for him to till, fitting it for 
the culture of the skilled husbandman who 
came just at the right time to turn their other- 
wise barren toil to good account : 

' My heritage, how lordly rich and fair, 
Time is my great seed-field ; to time I'm heir,' 


says the poet; consummate in wisdom, pagan 
in creed, born by a strange anachronism in 
Christian times. 

And Harvey might well have rejoiced in this 
his heritage, whose value it yet needed genius 
like his to turn to good account. Vague tradi- 
tions, gleams of information derived from vete- 
ran mariners, the seeds and fruits of unknown 
plants washed upon the western coasts of 
Europe, were the grounds on which Columbus 
built his hypothesis of a New World, whose 
discovery has rendered his name immortal. 
The facts were there, but others lacked the 
skill to interpret them. In the case of Colum- 
bus the writing on the wall had remained un- 
read for ages : in that of Harvey the characters 
had not been traced so long. I do not know 
that that detracts from the skill of the inter- 

We have no means of telling what fore- 
shadowings of his great discovery had been pre- 
sent to Harvey's mind in Padua, though it is 
evident from various incidental allusions to his 
work there that it had constant reference to the 
great unsolved problem which he was the first 
to answer. 


Harvey passed nearly five years at Padua, 
when he took his degree on April 25, 1602 ; 
and the names of Fortescue, Willoughby, Lister, 
Maunsell, Fox, and Darcy, who are mentioned 
as Englishmen present on the occasion, tell of 
the genial temper of the man who from youth 
to old age possessed the charm that drew around 
him ' troops of friends.' Eeturning to England 
soon afterwards, he became Doctor of Medicine 
of Cambridge in 1603 ; joined the College of 
Physicians in 1604; added to the honour of 
our Fellowship by being himself enrolled among 
the Fellows in 1607 ; married, settled in Lon- 
don, and commenced practice here, and in 1609 
became Physician to St. Bartholomew's Hos- 

It is, perhaps, idle to wish that we could get 
a glimpse of Harvey's home in these his early 
days ; a young physician just started in London 
practice. All we can do is to mention a few of 
those who formed at that time the circle of his 
friends and acquaintances ; and first among 
them we meet with two who were with him in 
his old Paduan days ; Matthew Lister and 
Simon Fox, both of them men of mark. They 
were Harvey's seniors in point of age, but 


settled in London about the same time with 
him. Lister became Physician to the Queen 
of James I. ; but he was besides the trusted 
friend, steward, and councillor of Mary, Countess 
of Pembroke, whose name will live as long as 
Sidney's ' Arcadia ' or Jonson's epitaph are re- 
membered. Fox, bred at Eton and at Cam- 
bridge, then served with the English army in 
the Netherlands, 1 under Sir John Norris, then 
studied medicine at Padua, where he gradua- 
ted, and whence he returned to London in 1603. 
Though ten years Harvey's senior in years, he 
was his junior in standing in the College, and 
succeeded to his post as Anatomy Eeader, on 
Harvey's resignation. He rose to well-deserved 
honour, became Elect, then President, and died 
with a reputation fully equal to the euphuistic 
Latin epitaph of his friend and cotemporary, 
Dr. Harney. 2 Harvey himself married a daugh- 

1 Dr. Munk, the learned and kindly Harveian Libra- 
rian, states that Fox took his degree at Padua before 
joining the army in the Netherlands. I believe that any 
one who consults the history of the time will see that the 
statement in the text is the more correct. 

2 Dr. Munk quotes it in his Roll of the College, vol. i. 
p. 139 : — ' Patuit totum Foxium ad honesti normam 
factum esse, gravem sine morositate, religiosum sine super- 


ter of Dr. Lancelot Browne, who was physician 
to Queen Elizabeth, and I do not think we need 
go much further in order to picture to ourselves 
the society in which he lived, that of the ' old 
courtiers of the Queen,' which the old song con- 
trasts, as we do not forget, with that of the 
' King's young courtiers.' 

Still these fancies, though they may serve to 
please the imagination, and to lend colour to an 
outline painfully indistinct, make no real addi- 
tion to our knowledge of the inner life of Har- 
vey, any more than does the fact that he at- 
tended Charles the First's kinsman, the young 
Duke of Lennox, 1 to the Continent in 1630 ; or 

stitione, magnificum sine luxu, munificum sine com- 
menioratione, nitidum sine curiositate, facundum sine 
taedio, prudentem sine fraude, amicum sine fine, opu- 
lentum sine injuria, ccelibem sine mollitie, historicum sine 
studio partium, poetam sine nugis, oratorem sine calamistris, 
philosophum sine sophismatibus, et medicuni denique sine 
omni histrionia.' 

1 James Stuart, 4th Duke of Lennox, son of Esme, 3rd 
Duke, nephew of Lodowick, 2nd Duke of Lennox, and 11th 
Duke of Richmond, acceded to the title in 1625 ; created 
Grandee of Spain while abroad on his travels ; on return 
made P. C. Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, and K.G. ; 
married the Lady Mary Villiers, daughter of George, Duke 
of Buckingham ; was one of the mourners who attended 

that he accompanied Thomas, Earl of Arundel 
(a name which no scholar, no lover of art can 
hear unmoved), in the year 1636, during the 
nine months of his special embassy to Vienna. 1 

Our further concern with Harvey is with 
his work ; his discoveries, with the reasons why 
we so venerate his memory, why, in making 
mention of the benefactors of this College, it is 
my duty impressed on me not only, Sir, by your 
commands, but by the grateful sense of the past 
two centuries, to name Harvey first, and separa- 
ted by a long interval from those whose merit 
yet most nearly approaches his. 

I have said that the work of the previous 

the funeral of King Charles I. at Windsor, and died in 
1655. See Playfair's ' British Family Antiquities,' vol. iii. 
1 Son of Philip Howard, Earl of Arundel, and of Ann 
Dacres, his wife, and grandson of that Duke of Norfolk 
who was executed on June 2nd, 1572, for complicity in 
the intrigues of Mary Queen of Scots. He deserves to be 
remembered, first, for his parents' virtues, to which the 
late Duke of Norfolk raised a touching monument by the 
publication of the contemporary lives of Philip Howard, 
Earl of Arundel, and Anne Dacres, his wife, 8vo. Lon- 
don, 1857 ; and second, for his own devotion to art, which 
has made his name a household word with all art-lovers 
everywhere. See sketch of his life in Collins's Peerage, by 
Brydges, 8vo. 1812, vol. i. p. 112-125. 


fifty years was needed to render Harvey's great 
discovery possible. This is not to be forgotten 
by any of us labouring at mere details of which, 
when we have ascertained them most certainly, 
we yet cannot see the purport or the uses. 
Sooner or later they will surely find their place. 
It would take too long to enumerate all the 
anatomical discoveries that were made during 
the fifty years before the time of Harvey. I 
will therefore mention those only which have 
reference to the circulatory system. 1 During 
this time the relations of the vena cava to the 
heart on the one hand and to the portal vein 
on the other were ascertained. The existence 
and distribution of the valves of the veins were 
made out and their purpose was conjectured, 
though these conjectures were to a great degree 
erroneous. The tricuspid valve of the heart 
was described and its uses were correctly ex- 
plained. The absence of any direct communi- 
cation between the two sides of the heart was 
placed beyond reasonable doubt ; and a theory 

1 For an account of the anatomical discoveries -which 
preceded Harvey's time, see Sprengel, ' Versuch einer 
pragmatischer Geschichte der Arzneykunde,' Halle, 1827, 
8vo. 3ter Theil ; 4tes Capitel. 


was thus disposed of which had been built in 
part (as so many false theories are) on incorrect 
observation, though it rested in part also on over 
hasty inference from a condition which really 
exists in the foetus. And lastly, and beyond all 
other points in importance, the smaller, or 
pulmonary circulation, was discovered and 
correctly expounded, though some erroneous 
hypotheses, the figments of mere fancy, the 
ghosts of old traditions, still hung about and 
obscured the simple truth. 

To obtain these results so briefly catalogued 
many most able and accomplished men had 
spent their lives with no other reward than this, 
that in after years young students of anatomy 
should know the Ductus Arteriosus by its syno- 
nym of Ductus Botalli, or should learn to desig- 
nate the little sesamoid bodies at the edge of 
the semilunar valves of the aorta and pulmonary 
artery as the Corpora Arantii, without for one 
moment asking who Botalli was, or what years 
of patient study, such as at this day we know 
nothing of, were needed before Arantius made 
those discoveries which have preserved his 
name, and little more than his name, from 
utter forgetfulness. 


The following may be taken as a fair sum- 
mary of what was known with reference to the 
circulation of the blood before Harvey's great 
discovery. The blood was known to pass from 
the right ventricle and circulate through the 
lungs, returning in part at least to the left side 
of the heart. But the current opinion was, that 
not all the blood, but only the thicker and im- 
purer part followed this course, while some of 
the purer still remained in the right side for 
further use, and a portion of it transuded 
through the minute apertures which imagina- 
tion still feigned, though sense could not dis- 
cern them, to the left side of the heart. Here 
as in an alembic the purer blood mixed, as was 
supposed, with a certain vital spirit with which 
the lungs had impregnated it, was transformed 
or distilled into that gether of twofold composi- 
tion, one part sanguineous, one aereal, which it 
was the special office of the arteries to convey, 
informing the whole body with life, while the 
veins supplied the blood which subserved the 
humbler purposes of nutrition. Between these 
two sets of vessels there was supposed to be no 
direct communication — no circulation in the 
proper sense — but in each there went on a 

D 2 


perpetual flux and reflux, an ebbing and a 
flowing tide, a tide, — so influenced by the same 
causes as govern the tides of ocean ; and hence, 
even in ordinary functions of the body, the as- 
pect of the moon, the conjunctions of the stars, 
controlled or at least modified them all. The 
heart, too, was not only the generator of vital 
heat and seat of life, but the source of the 
passions, and, when unrenewed, the dwelling- 
place of evil, its seat and throne. 

' Where life, and life's companion, heat, abideth ; 
And their attendants, passions untamed, 
Oft very Hell in this straight room resideth, 
Yet that great Light, by whom all heaven shines 
With borrowed beams, oft leaves his lofty skies, 
And to this lowly seat himself confines.' 

So sings, 1 or stammers rather, one of Harvey's 
contemporaries, the least poetical of a family of 

I have quoted these lines, not for their 
merit certainly, but because they afford a good 
illustration of that mixing up of the figurative 
expressions of theology in scientific enquiries 
which interferes grievously with the investiga- 

1 Phinehas Fletcher, ' Purple Island,' Canto iv. verses 
25-6 ; Editio princeps, Cambridge, 4to. 1633. 


tion of truth in the world of matter, while it 
yields no real because no intelligent homage to 
the higher world of belief. To Caesar that 
which is Caesar's, holds good in the realm of 
intellect as well as in an earthly state. Each 
has its rights, human intelligence as well as 
Divine authority, the lower as well as the higher. 
To confound the two were to render true fealty 
to neither. 

One dares not, in an Oration to commemo- 
rate Harvey, omit, how superfluous soever the 
mention may be, some brief statement of what 
his great discovery was. 

It was twofold. 

First. — After corroborating the statements 
of those who had denied either that blood 
transudes through the walls of the ventricles, 
or that the pulmonary veins bring back to the 
left side of the heart air commingled with the 
blood, he asserts that the left ventricle has 
no other function than that of impelling the 
blood brought to it through the arteries, which 
themselves contain blood and nothing else, not 
air, nor vital spirit, but blood purified by its 
passage through the lungs, and so made apt for 
the nourishment of the whole body ; and 


Second. — That while the arteries thus dis- 
tribute everywhere the fresh pure blood, the 
veins with which they communicate bring back 
that same blood, no longer pure, to the right 
side of the heart, whence it is once more trans- 
mitted to the lungs, thence carried again re- 
vivified to the left ventricle, and then once 
more distributed throughout the body, its 
changes not being those of an ebbing and 
a flowing tide, but the ceaseless current of an 
onward rushing river. 

We have no means of tracing step by step 
Harvey's progress, or of knowing when the 
grand simplicity of the Circulation of the Blood 
first revealed itself to him as unquestionable 
truth. ' I have found out that which will 
make my name immortal,' exclaimed Charles 
Bell one day in hot haste, when the idea of the 
two systems of nerves, the motor and the sen- 
tient, presented itself to his mind as no vague 
fancy, but as the conclusion to which careful 
experiment and thoughtful reflection had 
brought him. Bell was fortunate in the Yates 
Sacer, the faithful companion, the ever-ready 
secretary ; shall we say the muse who atten- 
ded on his genius, or the angel guardian ever 


by his side, who smoothed his sometimes rug- 
ged path, who chronicled in her memory each 
word and deed of his, and Avho with exquisite 
grace has revealed enough of him to make us 
understand how much there was in his charac- 
ter to love as well as to admire. 1 

The name of Harvey suggests that of Bell as 
of the one man who stands next to him ; I had 
almost said, and do not care to unsay it, who 
stands side by side with him by virtue of his 
deep insight into the structure of our frame and 
of the laws by which its functions are governed. 
I trust to your indulgence, Sir, to pardon me 
this digression. 

Of Harvey's inner life we have no record, 
and so all we know is that he taught the doc- 
trine of the Circulation of the Blood as early as 
the year 1615, when he held that office of 
Lumleian Lecturer, to which the too indulgent 
judgment of your predecessor, three years ago, 
Sir, promoted me. It was not, however, until 
the year 1628, when Harvey was fifty years 
old, that he gave to the world the full fruit of 
his labours, in his ' Exercitatio de Motu Cor- 

1 Letters of Sir C. Bell, 8vo., London, 1870. 


dis,' which was published at Frankfort-on-the- 
Main. 1 

I know few scientific treatises so interesting 
as this ; whether one reads it in Harvey's own 
Latin, or in the most excellent translation of 
Dr. Eobert Willis, whose early kindness to me I 
desire here publicly to thank him for, while I 
congratulate him on the not inglorious learned 
leisure of a ripe old age. 

What first strikes one in reading Harvey's 
essay ' On the Motion of the Heart,' and still 
more in his two letters written years afterwards 
to the younger Eiolanus who had attacked his 
doctrines, is the exquisite courtesy of his tone 
towards his opponents. It is the more remark- 
able since it was so little the custom of the 
time. He mentions no adversary's name except 
to couple it with praise, and the hardest words 
I find him use are in the commencement of his 
second letter to Eiolanus, 2 which I venture to 
render thus : — 

' Some there are, detractors, mountebanks, 
foul-mouthed, whose writings I have made it a 
rule to myself never to read, since I should 

1 Life, in Willis's ' Harvey,' p. xxii. 

2 Harva?i Opera; College Edition, p. 109. 


think them unworthy of answer. They may 
indulge their spleen for me ; few right-minded 
persons will care to read what they have writ- 
ten, nor will they obtain that greatest and most 
desirable of all gifts, the wisdom which God, 
the giver of all good, grants not to the evil.' 

Harvey lived in an atmosphere too pure for 
clouds from the lower world to reach him, or if, 
remembering his famous conversation with Sir 
George Ent, 1 to which we owe the fragment of 
his other great work, we cannot deny that strife 
vexed, and detraction pained him, he at any 
rate, in spite of his choleric youth, had learnt 
well the lesson of which there is no better nor 
terser version than the Psalmist's, ' Fret not thy- 
self in any way to do evil.' 

The same calm temper shows itself all 
through his essay. There is nothing in it for 

1 Opera; p. 162, and Willis's translation, p. 147. 

'And would you be the man,' said Harvey smiling, 
' who should recommend me to quit the peaceful haven, 
where I now pass my life, and to launch again upon the 
pathless sea? You know full well what a storm my 
former lucubrations raised. Much better is it oftentimes 
to grow wise at home, and in private, than by publishing 
what you have amassed with infinite labour, to stir up 
tempests that may rob you of peace and quiet for the rest 
of your days.' 


display, no attempt at fine writing, no dispa- 
ragement of others, no indirect laudation of 
himself ; not a word to show that he ever dreamt 
of the undying fame which was to be his re- 
ward. He seems to have gone about it as if it 
were the simplest thing in the world to have 
made the greatest discovery that ever had been 
made in Anatomy and Physiology. He quietly 
details his observations, adduces his arguments, 
answers objections, draws his conclusions, and 
at last, when he has exhausted his facts, and 
completed his train of reasoning, he just writes 
his last sentence and lays down his pen. 

I will not attempt to give an analysis of his 
great work, nor to describe the way in which, 
step by step, Harvey builds up his argument. 
This has already been done by others far better 
than I could hope to do it ; and I should be 
sorry to attempt to tread where I know I should 
falter, in the steps of the Linacre Professor, 1 
who last year filled the post which, with a sad 
sense of my shortcomings, I am now striving 
worthily to occupy. 

Nor will they who heard the Harveian 

1 Dr. Rolleston, of Oxford. 


Oration three years ago * blame me if I pass 
without further notice that great work on Gene- 
ration, which (incomplete though it is, and 
imperfect as it must needs be, owing to the 
absence in Harvey's time of many of those helps 
which were absolutely essential to arriving at 
the truth) remains like the torso of some 
ancient statue, the imperishable monument of 
the artist's genius. 

I will keep, with your permission, Sir, to the 
lower level, where I can walk most securely. 
'I am not high-minded, I have not high thoughts, 
I meddle not with things that are too wonder- 
ful for me,' said one of old, and the tradition 
has been well kept up in the College, which 
once enrolled you among its Fellows, Mr. Pre- 
sident : and where the low and narrow gate 
Humility leads to the gate of Honour. 2 

1 By Dr. Arthur Farre. 

2 It seems almost an impertinence to add the name of 
Gonville and Cains College, Cambridge, with, as Fuller 
quaintly terms them, its ' three gates of remark. The 
gate of humility, low and little, opening into the street over 
against St. Michael's church ; the gate of virtue, one of the 
best pieces of architecture in England, in the midst of the 
College ; thirdly, the gate of honour, leading to the Schools. 
Thus the gates may read a good lecture of morality to 


In this utilitarian age the question may well 
be asked, no unreasonable one indeed in any 
age, What was the practical outcome of it all ; 
what was the use, the good of the discovery of 
the Circulation of the Blood? First, I may 
perhaps be allowed to say, though the remark 
is trite enough, that the mere finding out of any 
truth, be that truth what it may, is clear gain. 
So long as we do not deify human intellect, every 
triumph that it achieves enriches all ; and it is 
as proud a thing for us to be able to claim citi- 
zenship with Newton or with Bacon as with 
Wellington or with Nelson. Nor is this all, 
but in Harvey's time the manner in which he 
conducted his enquiries was in its teachings of 
value little less than was the result at which he 
arrived. Four years before the ' Novum Orga- 
non ' appeared, 1 he had anticipated its famous 
lesson, ' Non fingendum aut excogitandum quid 
natura faciat aut fiat,' and had proved beyond 
the possibility of refutation, what years after- 
such who go in and out thereat.' Fuller's ' History of the 
University of Cambridge,' 8vo., London, 1840, p. 189. 

1 The first edition of Bacon's ' Instauratio Magna, i.e. 
Novum Organon, &c.,' was published in 1620, in folio, at 
London. See Lowndes' ' Bibliographer's Manual,' Bohn's 
Edition, London, 1840. 


wards he asserted in eloquent words, ' That facts 
cognisable by the senses wait upon no opinions, 
and that the works of nature bow to no anti- 
quity; for indeed there is nothing either more 
ancient, or of higher authority than nature. 1 ' 

Still, to us as practitioners of the healing 
arts, what help came there in the exercise of 
our calling ? It is said that Harvey had the 
rare happiness, notwithstanding the opposition 
which at first attended the announcement of 
his discovery, to see it universally accepted 
before he died. Was human life prolonged, 
was human suffering mitigated, as its direct and 
immediate consequence ? To both these ques- 
tions we must answer No ; but the no must be 
accompanied by two qualifications. 

First. In the ordinary affairs of human life 
many things are done rightly, but on wrong, 
or at least, on insufficient grounds, just as in 
the world of morals many a man is diligent, 
or temperate, or chaste, on grounds far lower 
than the noblest. The seaman still navigated 
his ship in the main correctly by the stars 
nearly three hundred years after the use of 

1 Second Letter to Eiolanus, Willis's 'Harvey,' p. 123. 


the Mariner's Compass was known in Europe, 
and treatises on the use of the Astrolabe con- 
tinued to appear down nearly to the end of the 
sixteenth century. 1 The Ptolemaic theory of 
the Solar System was wrong, but it served to 
calculate eclipses by as well as the Copernican. 
But Second. We, with our narrow span of 
life, are naturally in a hurry for results. What 
comes not in our own time seems delayed in- 
definitely, and we feel as little children do when 
they dig up the ground in their impatience to 
learn whether the seeds they planted have yet 
begun to sprout. It was thus once supposed 
that in the realm of nature effect followed cause 
in quick succession, and it was little thought 
how slow is the action of those powers which 
have by their continuance upheaved mountains, 
or have hollowed out deep seas. So, too, in 
the world of intellect the remote consequences 
of a discovery are long in disclosing themselves, 
impossible to be foreseen. No gift of second 
sight showed at the time to anyone the electric 
telegraph in Franklin's experiment made a hun- 
dred and twenty years ago. Harvey admired the 

1 See list of works on the Astrolabe, in Brumt's 
' Manuel du Libraire,' Paris, 1SG5, vol. vi. p. 491. 


skill of the artificer revealed by his researches 
as it had never been before ; but of the practi- 
cal result of those researches he saw but little ; 
and could never have imagined with what ac- 
curacy we can now, thanks to his labours, as- 
certain the nature and seat of disease in each of 
the four cavities of the heart itself, presage its 
course, and even where we cannot cure, obtain 
at least an euthanasia for our patient, and rob 
death of half its terrors by depriving it of more 
than half its suffering. 

Harvey's merits as a discoverer have thrown 
into the shade his claims to be remembered as 
a physician. It may be doubted, however, 
whether if we had adequate means of forming a 
judgment, we should not find him entitled to 
occupy a far higher place than is commonly 
assigned him, on no better grounds than are 
furnished by a few depreciating remarks of 
Aubrey. 1 He understood the value of morbid 
anatomy as the only sure ground on which 

1 ' I never knew any that admired his therapeutique 
way. I knew several practitioners in this towne (London) 
that would not have given 3d for one of his bills, and that 
a man could hardly tell by one of his bills what he did 
aime at.' Lib. cit. p. 385. 


pathology can stand ; and true to his guiding 
principle in his great discovery, while thanking 
Eiolanus for his ' Enchiridion Anatoniicum et 
Pathologicum,' x the fruit, he says, of labours 
worthy of the prince of anatomists, he uses the 
following remarkable words, true beyond all 
controversy as far as regards material things : 
' Nulla est scientia qute non ex prseexistente 
cognitione oritur, nullaque certe et plene cog- 
nita notitia, quas non ex sensu origin em duxit.' 2 
Eiolanus in his book had indulged himself 
in the idle fancy of attempting to deduce from 
examination of the bodies of healthy subjects 
inferences as to the nature and seat of the 
diseases to which the human frame is subject ; 
and Harvey says that, stimulated by his ex- 
ample, he too proposes to publish his ' Medical 
Anatomy, or Anatomy in its Application to 
Medicine,' a work, which it will be observed, he 
speaks of as being completed and only waiting 
for the printer. But his mode of proceeding 
in this work, he says, is different from that of 
Eiolanus, since he purposes ' to relate from the 
many dissections I have made of the bodies of 

1 Published at Leyden, in 8vo., in 1649. 

2 ' Exercitatio Prima, ad Riolanum,' Opera, p. 91. 


persons diseased — worn out by serious and 
strange affections — how and in what way the 
internal organs were changed in their situation, 
size, structure, figure, consistency, and other 
sensible qualities, from their natural form and 
appearances. And just as the inspection of 
healthy and well-constituted bodies contributes 
essentially to the advancement of philosophy 
and sound physiology, so does the inspection 
of diseased and cachectic subjects powerfully 
assist philosophical pathology.' 1 

Just a century later, Morgagni, in his great 
work, ' De Sedibus et Causis Morborum per Ana- 
tomen indagatis,' 2 brought honour to his own 
name and to Harvey's own University of Padua, 
by doing excellently well what Harvey had 
done before. Still we cannot but lament the 
destruction of Harvey's finished manuscript, 
which might have set our art forward by a 
hundred years. We regret the lost treasure 
as we do the 

1 Wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearls, 
Inestimable stones, unvalued jewels, 
All scattered at the bottom of the sea.' 

1 Opera, p. 91, and Willis's translation, p. 89. 

2 First edition, published at Bassano, in 1761. 


Nor is this our only loss. Harvey refers on 
many occasions, as to a completed work, to his 
' Medical Observations,' and introduces, espe- 
cially in his ' Exercitatio de Partu,' many illus- 
trative cases which he says he extracts from it. 
These cases are remarkable for their clearness, 
brevity, and for the aptness with which they 
bear upon their subject ; and, as far as the pur- 
pose for which they are adduced admits of it, 
they show also much homely common sense, 
and much practical medical skill. 

We may the more deplore the loss of these 
' Observations,' since they were by no means 
limited to one department of medicine, but 
seem to have been very extensive in their 
scope, while their record appears to have been 
specially a labour of love to Harvey. He refers 
to them in his second letter to Kiolanus, when 
speaking of the influence of the mind upon the 
body : 

' But here,' says he, ' I come upon a field 
where I might roam freely and give myself up 
to speculation. And, indeed, such a flood of 
light and truth breaks in upon me here, occa- 
sion offers of explaining so many problems, of 
resolving so many doubts, of discovering the 


causes of so many slighter and more serious 
diseases, and of suggesting remedies for their 
cure, that the subject seems to demand a sepa- 
rate treatise. And it will be my business in 
my " Medical Observations " to lay before my 
readers matter upon all these topics which shall 
be worthy of the gravest consideration.' 1 

What would not such a book have been, 
written on such subjects by such a man ! But 
it perished in those civil wars which yet were 
to Harvey nothing more than the most natural 
occasion for calling into practice the lessons of 
loyalty to his Sovereign and of love to his 
country which he had learnt in his childhood. 
So little could bitterness dwell in his memory, 
that in a letter written when eighty years of age 
to Nardi, 2 at Florence, he says, ' I send you 
three books upon the subject you name ;' and 
not a word more does lie add, though the sub- 
ject was those very civil wars which had driven 
him from his home and his pursuits, which had 
slain his Sovereign and his friend, and had de- 
stroyed by the hands of a fanatical soldiery the 
fruit of years of labour. 

1 Willis's translation, p. 129. 2 Ibid. p. 611. 

e 2 


In Harvey's case indeed Apollo seems to 
have cared but ill for his votary. 

' Captain, or Colonel, or Knight-in-Arms, 
Whose chance on these defenceless doors may seize, 
If deed of honour did thee ever please, 
Guard them from harm ! ' 

So pleads Milton for himself with the Cava- 
liers. I am sure had he known Harvey he 
would have pleaded no less earnestly for him 
with the soldiers of the Commonwealth. 

Harvey bowed without a murmur to the 
stroke of which later times have felt the full 

But I see, Sir, my little hour is well nigh 
spent, and I have as yet done but scant justice 
to one part of my theme, though that is indeed 
the greatest, the real occasion of our meeting 
here. A word or two must still be said to 
commemorate the Benefactors of our College ; 
and I am forbidden to end without the endea- 
vour to stir up myself and you, my colleagues, 
to a diligent enquiry into Nature's ways. 

Benefactors — those who have done us good, 
or have shown us kindness ; in vulgar sort, 
those to whom we owe gifts of money, grants 
of land, something or other that can be bought 


or sold in open market. According to this 
reading, few indeed have been our benefac- 
tors. Harvey, it is true, adopted this College 
as his heir, and left to us his lands, his books, 
as well as his name and fame and the ex- 
ample of his virtues. Dr. Harney, too, gave 
us money, and we have had small bequests and 
gifts from other sources ; but it all amounts to 
but little, some 600£ a year or so. We must 
seek a higher meaning for the word ' benefac- 
tors ' than is associated with any idea of money. 

' Non ebur neque aureum 

Nostra renidet in domo lacunar : 

Non trabes Hymettia? 

Premunt columnas ultima recisas 


What comparison will this our College 
bear with the magnificent halls of the great 
City Companies ? 

I remember, Sir, how, once a year, it was 
my duty when Censor to be present when stock 
was taken of our plate. You will correct me 
if I give the inventory wrongly. A silver punch- 
bowl, innocent for the past fifty years at least 
of the generous brewage, and used ever since 
I can remember to collect the voting-papers at 


our elections ; a pair of silver candlesticks, a 
silver inkstand, and a silver bell, and your wand, 
Sir, the emblem of your office. It all, if melted 
down, might fetch perhaps twenty pounds, but 
I doubt it. 

' At fides, et ingeni 
Benigna vena est.' 

In that stood the old Soman's wealth ; in 
that stands ours. 

Our great benefactors are they who have 
left us the inheritance of their example. They 
are such as Sydenham, who, with clear, open in- 
tellect, looked around him in search of truth : 
who used theories and systems as counters to 
mark with, or as the cords with which to tie his 
facts into bundles for greater convenience, and 
more handy reference. And so with him it has 
come to pass, as with Hippocrates, that no time 
will ever antiquate his writings, nor advance of 
scientific knowledge lessen their value. Or such 
as Meade, the man of universal culture, and yet 
the great practical physician — 

' Health waits on Meade's prescription still — ' 

says a contemporary, 1 the associate of princes, 
1 Sir C. Hanbury Williams, in a Grateful Ode, as he 


the patron of learning, the poor's best friend: to 
Avhom worldly success came in a larger measure 
than to most, but whom yet none envied while 
living, all mourned when dead ; and the secret 
of whose rare good fortune was that he lived in 
the spirit of his own motto, ' Non sibi, sed toti.' 
Or such, in later days, as Jenner, who devoted 
his whole life to the patient investigation of the 
means by which the once greatest scourge of 
modern Europe might be rendered well-nigh 
harmless. Or, lastly, to come down within the 
personal recollection of many of us, such as 
Bright, toiling unrewarded for years ; investiga- 
ting disease in the wards of the hospital, and 
studying its consequences in the dead-house, 
till he had found out and described a previously 
unknown malady ; nor only that, but had also 
pointed out the means by which to accomplish 
its prevention, and to attain its cure. And when 
his recompense had come, though tardily, and 
when at the summit of his success, he still re- 
tained all the simplicity and gentleness of a 
child. One approached him without fear, and 

terms it, to two of the Bath doctors, in acknowledgment of 
his daughter's recovery. See his Works, London, 1822, 
vol. i. p. 232. 


scarcely conscious of the distance between one- 
self and him. So ready was lie to impart know- 
ledge, he seemed only a senior student ; so kind 
was he in his way of doing it, he seemed rather 
an elder brother. 

' They are all gone into the world of light,' 

as says, in one of his most touching poems, a 
cotemporary of Harvey's later years, who caring 
little for academic titles, or for worldly honours, 
left the turmoil and the throng to pass his life 
quietly on the banks of TFsk, tending the poor 
as a village doctor, and finding his refreshment 
and his solace in the composition of those verses 
which he has left behind for ours. Another 
and a different illustration this, which Henry 
Vaughan affords of the benefactors whom we on 
tliis day are bound to have in special remem- 

One thing in common belongs to Sydenham, 
and Jenner, and Bright, as to so many whom 
time fails for me to mention here. They were 
most diligent in seeking out nature by way of 
experiment, as Harvey has it by an old use of 
the word which signifies to find out, or learn by 
experience, not to settle or pre-determine by 


plausible conjecture, or by reasoning, what is 
most likely or most fitting. But there never 
was a time when this exhortation was less ne- 
cessary than at present ; so busy is every one, 
with the aid of all imaginable scientific helps, in 
investigating the structure and functions of the 
body, and in unravelling the problems presented 
by its diseases. It is to the former rather than 
to the latter of these two classes of enquiries 
that the objection must attach, if attach it does, 
that its conclusions sometimes seem opposed to 
the doctrines of religion, and that its pursuit is 
unfavourable to the humility and the teachable- 
ness on higher subjects which we are all bound 
to cultivate. I apprehend that any such objec- 
tion applies even more forcibly to metaphysical 
study than to scientific research; and we cannot 
forget that the poet represents the highest of 
the fallen spirits as seeking distraction in their 
uneasy rest, by discourse 

' Of Providence, Foreknowledge, Will, and Fate, 
Vain Wisdom all, and false Philosophie ; ' 

and leaving the secrets of this material world, 
' which things the angels desire to look into,' 


But further, such objections as there are, 
attach not to the facts observed, but to the in- 
ferences, the generalisations drawn from imper- 
fect knowledge. None of us who can remember 
the first broaching of Schwann's famous theory 
of cell-formation, but must have been struck by 
the modifications which thirty years have intro- 
duced into the doctrines then propounded. We 
may take a fact for true as far as our means of 
observation reach, but it must be with the con- 
sciousness that with the increase of those means 
the truth may seem far other than it did before, 
as when more powerful telescopes resolved the 
nebulse into myriads of stars. Nor only so, but 
there is many a fact of which we can see a part 
only, cannot take in the whole of it at once ; 
and hence our notions concerning it must needs 
be incorrect. Let one person describe the 
Matterhorn as seen from the Italian side, and 
another as he viewed it from the Eiffel, and it 
would be hard to recognise in the two accounts 
the same wonderful mountain. The description, 
too, would differ, according as the object were 
looked at when the dense storm-clouds were 
settling down upon it, or when the rosy vapours 
of the setting sun were beautifying, though half 


concealing it, or in the clear sky of early morn- 
ing when its out line stands out distinct. And 
so it is, too, in our investigations into scientific 
questions. If our view is obscured by any 
prejudice for or against this or that inference, 
which a fact seems to invalidate or to support, 
or even if the hues of religious sentiment are 
allowed to intervene and colour it, we see indis- 
tinctly and judge wrongly. It is only the 
Lumen siccum, the pure light of passionless in- 
tellect, which shows things truly and distorts 
them by no refraction. It is thus only that we 
can enquire into the truths written by God's 
own finger on the world, and on all that inhabit 
it. ' Sine odio, sine studio,' with no prejudice, 
no favour, for it is eternal truth we seek after ; 
not shocked, nor scandalised, because other 
seekers as honest as ourselves arrive at con- 
clusions which do not harmonise with ours, 
for in matters of science at least, ' it is not im- 
possible that truth may have more shapes than 
one.' Therefore, to quote further from the 
words of the same great master, — 

' Give Truth but room, and do not bind her 
when she sleeps, for then she speaks not true, 
as the old Proteus did who spake oracles only 


when he was caught and bound ; but then 
rather she turns herself into all shapes except 
her own, and perhaps tunes her voice according 
to the time, as Micaiah did before Ahab, until 
she be adjured into her own likeness.' x 

But many a child knows the alphabet who 
cannot spell, or spells but cannot read, or read- 
ing fluently enough, yet fails to catch the full 
meaning of the sentence. And so I take it we 
must feel that at the best we are but children 
who have scarce learnt to spell out the words, 
and who dare not therefore be too positive as to 
their true significance. 

Or, to change the metaphor, our theories 
and systems are but as the scaffolding which 
serves to raise the building. As the building 
rises the scaffolding is struck, and we may be 
content if it has answered well its temporary 
purpose. We must not hold too confidently 
to opinions which a few years may show to be 
partial, if not wrong, and may wait patiently in 
hopes of a clearer vision, as he of old who first 
saw ' men as trees, walking,' afterwards, under 
the Divine touch, beheld all clearly. 

1 Milton's ' Areopagirica ; ' in Works, 8vo., London, 
1867, vol. iv. p. 444. 


And it is thus, I believe, and in this spirit, 
that we shall avoid all danger of dogmatising or 
of concluding rashly from our most imperfect 
view of things that come under the cognizance 
of our senses with reference to those higher 
things which are beyond our ken. There is in- 
deed a happiness enjoyed by those who with firm 
conviction yield to some truths an assent more 
undoubting than any to which reason alone 
would lead, and to which none but they can 
attain. Thus it was that Pascal followed his 
scientific pursuits, with no solicitude as to the 
conclusions to which they would conduct him, 
safe in the ' more sure word of prophecy ' to 
which it behoved him to take heed. 1 

But even for those who are not able to sub- 
scribe to Pascal's creed, there is yet enough in 
all the changes of scientific theory and opinion 
to lead them when doing battle for some hypo- 
thesis that may seem opposed to old beliefs, to 
bear in mind that after all they may be mis- 
taken, that the ancient creed may have more 

1 See Dr. Pusey's Sermons, preached before the Uni- 
versity of Oxford, between 1859 and 1872 ; 8vo., London, 
1872 • Sermon I. identical in teaching with Newman's 
' Grammar of Assent.' 


truth in it than seems. I know of no more 
wholesome state of mind for the investigation of 
truth than the ever-present consciousness of the 
possibility of error. 

I feel, however, that I have small justifica- 
tion for speaking of the frame of mind befitting 
those who investigate the great secrets of Nature. 
The magician's power to compel her to disclose 
them has been denied to me. Miror magis. I 
wonder, I admire, and I rejoice in the safer, 
humbler walk which our profession opens to 
the less gifted, as it does to me. 

The study of our body, of its wonderful 
adaptation of means to end, has led all of us to 
recognise the reign of law, and most of us to 
see behind the law the Lawgiver, ' the divine 
Harmostes who arranges all in such methodical 
and tunable proportions.' l And yet we come 
upon the difficulties — the insoluble difficulties of 
mechanism, not so perfect but that it might have 
been more complete ; sure to wear out, and in 
its decay certain to entail suffering, — suffering 
avoidable, unnecessary, which the great Ar- 

1 See also the whole of theeloquent Chapter II. of BooklV. 
of Cudworth's ' Treatise concerning Eternal and Immutable 
Morality,' 8vo., London, 1731 ; especially pages 176-177. 


chasus might, had he chosen, have prevented. 
Much ingenuity has been exerted in the endea- 
vour to explain away these difficulties, and at 
the same time to resist the conclusion, ' Non 
omnia moriar,' which explains them all. 

But our profession gives us, in its daily exer- 
cise, the solution of the problem. We have to 
do with the spoilt, not with the perfect ; the 
meaning presses on us ; we find it in a brief 
sentence, half of which most are ready to utter 
with reverence, ' Deus qui hw nance substantice 
dignitatem mirabiliter condidisti ;' ' God who in 
creating human nature didst wonderfully dignify 
it ;' but two words are still wanting to com- 
plete it, ' et mirabilius reform asti,' and ' hast still 
more wonderfully renewed it.' These solve the 
otherwise insoluble equation, these give the 
answer to the enigma. 

I have thus striven, Sir, as best I could, to 
obey your commands, and to set before the 
Fellows and Members of this College the great 
Harvey and the times in which he lived. I 
have endeavoured especially to dwell upon 
those features in his character — the gentleness, 
the foro-etfulness of injury, the love of truth, 
the love of others, the highest love in which 
all of us can best hope to follow his example. 


I trust, however, that I have not failed to 
render such homage as I could bring (and the 
offerer's gift must not be measured by his 
poverty or by his wealth, but by the heart 
which brings it) to the genius of Harvey, and 
of all whose endowments have enabled them 
since his time to follow where he led. I have 
claimed, too, for them and for all investigators 
into Nature's ways the most unshackled freedom 
of enquiry. But knowing how upon great 
heights the head is apt to turn dizzy, and how 
the consciousness of having attained an eleva- 
tion which few can ever dream of reaching 
tends to induce self- admiration and intellectual 
pride — ' by that sin fell angels ' — I have ven- 
tured to recommend, as an unfailing talisman 
against such dangers, that Hcemony 

' More medicinal than that Moly, 
Which Hermes once to wise Uhjsse- gave.' 

If in so doing it should seem to any of my 
friends, my colleagues, or to any of my audience, 
that I have overstepped the limits of my office, 
I ask their pardon, Sir, as I ask yours. 

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